When I was in the Peace Corps, I remember sitting in a group of volunteers and everyone was talking. The talk was about how wonderful everything was, or, rather, how amazing everything was.
Their students were amazing.
Their sites were amazing.
Their vacations were amazing.
That other volunteer, the one who wasn't there that night because she was out with a boy, she was amazing and beautiful and gorgeous.
But I sat there wondering what was wrong with me because I didn't think much of anything was amazing. Sure, there were bits and pieces here and there, but the overall scene (for me) was just a combination of ups and downs.
Some of it was amazing.
Some of it was mediocre.
Some of it was bath-face-down awful.
Like every other place I've lived, it was a combination of all of that.
But what I've seen become a trend is to ignore the mediocre or the awful and instead drone on and on about the amazing. What I see is a penchant for making stories positive, lest we all fall into the abyss of negativity (and thereby fail to appreciate the blessings of our lives).
In an attempt to be grateful, to express our appreciation and to focus on the bright side of life, I think we're all lying to ourselves a tiny bit.
It's not an outright, bold lie.
And it's not a lie of oblivion.
I think it's just a lie of omission.
We don't want to be the Debby Downers. We don't want to be the angry third wheel, ruining the gemish lives everyone else is living. We don't want to be that guy - the one who fails to use superlatives and maybe, just maybe, shrugs and says, "I don't know. It was okay."
Most of my life is kind of average. It's okay. Amazing, in my opinion, should be saved for the truly amazing, the awe-inspiring, the high-above-average, the stuff that makes us stop in our tracks.
Starbuck's new frappucinno blend is not amazing.
Most of the meals I eat are a variant of good. Some are downright bad. Few are superb.
So, as I wrap up this vacation, I've got to be honest: there have been some great moments. There have been some really spectacular moments (the ballet), and there have been some really challenging moments.
My daughter, recently turned 13, has been less than lovely.
I ate some pizza and had a massive stomach ache and had to wander the streets of Midtown in search of a pharmacy.
The hotel upstate was a little grim.
We spent over $100 on a meal that was so bad I just stopped eating and ate cereal back at the hotel.
I don't think talking about any of those dodgy moments makes my trip any less of a good time. I think it just makes it normal. There are highs and lows.
But when I read Facebook or meet friends for coffee or sit at a dinner party, it's like there's this compulsion to one-up each other with tales of fabulousness. Nobody wants to admit a less-than-amazing life. Everyone's language is infused with adjectives, superlatives and feeling #soblessed.
It's a lot to live up to, no? And it makes those of us who aren't running around on the backs of shimmering unicorns feel, occasionally, like we might be missing something - like we might be less-than because our teenage daughter was sassy or our meal wasn't great or the New York City library was kind of a disappointment.
But another thing I've learned is that everyone's life is pretty much the same - a cycle of ups and downs, disappointments and moments of joy, good and bad.
Nobody is killing it all the time.
No matter how amazing it all seems to be.
What do you think? Is being less-than-gushing rude? Is admitting the negative bad form? Should we all look on the bright side of life, all the time?
I'm packing up as we prepare to head home. Onward and upward. :)